Avis Initiates Search Through Pile

Fallon, Publicis Among Agencies Eying Plum Creative Assignment
BOSTON – Pile and Co. here will spend the remainder of the month determining the initial playing field in the review for the creative portion of Avis Rent A Car System’s ad account.
The Garden City, N.Y.-based company, looking to reverse a decline in market share that has seen it slip from second to fifth in the car rental category in the past decade, has split with Bates USA after 14 years. The New York agency’s most recent work is tagged “We try harder. For you.” Media chores, handled by Grey Advertising, New York, are not in play.
“This is a new era for Avis and it is important for us to ensure that we feel we have the best agency partner possible,” said Avis senior vice president of marketing Maria Miller in a statement. She did not return calls.
Avis spent $30 million on ads last year and has earmarked the same amount for 1999, said Pile and Co. president Skip Pile, who refuted speculation that the client is planning to boost its budget to $50 million. A final decision in the Avis pitch is expected in August.
Category leader Enterprise Rent-A-Car spends $28 million annually on ads through Avrett, Free & Ginsberg in New York, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Hertz, which ranks second, spends about $74 million with DDB Needham in New York. No. 3 AutoNation spends some $60 million through various agency resources on its Alamo and National brands.
Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, which develops creative for AutoNation’s used-car chain and is a former Budget shop, believes it would be qualified to compete for Avis but questioned whether it could prevail in a Pile and Co. review. “I’ve been here for four years and we have never won a Pile and Co. review,” said one executive.
Publicis & Hal Riney, Chicago, had until recently handled the Budget business. That experience may propel sister shop Publicis, New York, into the Avis pitch, sources said. Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis surfaced as a potential participant after dropping out of the Budget contest. – with Judy Warner